Law enforcement authorities investigating the emails soon realized that the threatening communications were part of a larger series of crimes.
Mijangos, they discovered, had tricked scores of women and teenage girls into downloading malware onto their computers.
As defined in the Mijangos court documents, sextortion is “a form of extortion and/or blackmail” wherein “the item or service requested/demanded is the performance of a sexual act.” The crime takes a number of different forms, and it gets prosecuted under a number of different statutes.
Sometimes it involves hacking people’s computers to acquire images then used to extort more.
The malicious software he employed provided access to all files, photos, and videos on the infected computers.
And if they did, he would then threaten them further, notifying them that he knew they had told someone.
In at least one case, he posted nude photos of a victim on the Myspace account of a friend of the victim, which Mijangos had also hacked, after she refused to comply with his demands.
To make matters worse, Mijangos also used the computers he controlled to spread his malware further, propagating to the people in his victims’ address books instant messages that appeared to come from friends and thereby inducing new victims to download his malware.
As the prosecutor said in the case, Mijangos “play[ed] psychological games with his victims” His victims reported signs of immense psychological stress, noting that they had “trouble concentrating, appetite change, increased school and family stress, lack of trust in others, and a desire to be alone.” * * * As bizarre as the Mijangos case may sound, his conduct turns out to be not all that unusual.More often, it involves manipulation and trickery on social media.But at the core of the crime always lies the intersection of cybersecurity and sexual coercion.In it, we look at the methods used by perpetrators and the prosecutorial tools authorities have used to bring offenders to justice.We hope that by highlighting the scale and scope of the problem, and the brutality of these cases for the many victims they affect, to spur a close look at both state and federal laws under which these cases get prosecuted.This is the new playground.” But while the FBI has issued numerous warnings about sextortion, the government publishes no data on the subject.